Judge rules against American couple who killed British teenagers claimed diplomatic immunity
Anne Sacoolas and her husband Jonathon reportedly fled the UK after killing 19-year-old Harry Dunn.
A federal judge has ruled against an American couple who killed a British teenager in a car accident and then fled the UK through diplomatic immunity.
According to The Associated Press, Anne Sacoolas is stationed in Central England with her husband Jonathon. In August 2019, Anne Sacoolas beat and killed 19-year-old Harry Dunn while driving on the wrong side of the road.
While Sacoolas admitted responsibility for the crash, the United States government invoked diplomatic immunity on her behalf and allowed her to leave the country even as British prosecutors prepared a case against her.
Dunn’s family, according to The Associated Press, filed a lawsuit against Sacoolas in the US District Court in Alexandria.
In it, the Dunn family claims that Sacoolas not only killed Harry Dunn, but that they failed to call the police or call an ambulance immediately afterwards.
In addition, Sacoolas made what appears to be a temporary decision to flee the UK after pledging to cooperate with the UK authorities in their investigation. After Sacoolas returned to her home in Northern Virginia, the United States government denied numerous requests for extradition for prosecution.
With Sacoolas refusing to cooperate with the UK authorities and refusing to return to the UK on criminal charges, the Dunn family had no choice but to file a civil lawsuit in a US court.
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Anne and Jonathon Sacoolas’ lawyers have alleged that the lawsuit was improperly filed and has no place before an American judge.
Last month, Virginia-based US District Judge TS Ellis III dismissed an argument by Sacoolas attorneys that the case should be dismissed in the US and tried in the UK instead. Ellis noted an obvious flaw in the Sacalooses’ reasoning and said that in any event, Anne would likely have to testify – something she couldn’t do if a trial were to take place in Britain
Then, on Wednesday, Ellis denied another motion to dismiss the lawsuit – one that examined and challenged the applicability of UK law in American courts.
The Associated Press notes that Sacoolas’ attorneys attempted to issue a “corrective notice” claiming that Sacoolas had neither attempted to evade British law nor refused to provide Dunn with emergency care. Her lawyers said that Sacoolas actually stopped another driver who in turn called an ambulance; They also say Sacoolas notified a nearby air force base of the accident, which provided the necessary medical services.
Sacoolas’ defense also claimed that evacuating diplomats and other government personnel charged abroad was part of standard operating procedures.
Notice of the correction, however, received a sharp reprimand from Ellis, who apparently believed the petition was nothing more than a publicity stunt designed to save Sacoolas’ face.
“You can make your case public if you want, but you can’t change my order by filing a note of correction,” he said. “I don’t think anything I said is wrong.”
With Ellis’ verdict, the case can move to discovery.
Civil lawsuit in the US over the death of a British teenager remains open
US court pages with the family of the man who is killed in Crash with the diplomat’s wife